CLOSE to 150 thousand Ecuadorans suffering from cataracts and pterygium have recovered their sight thanks to the cooperation provided by Cuba to the South American country since July 2006, sources from the island’s medical brigade operating in the country confirmed this October 17.
Dr. Ania Carmenate, responsible for implementing the agreement on ophthalmology centers signed last year between the Health Ministries of the two countries, explained to Prensa Latina, that 5,500 people have had surgery in the three institutions run by Cuba specialists in the country.
Meanwhile, the head of the Cuban medical brigade in Ecuador, María Isabel Martínez, noted that the agreement replaces the Operation Miracle program on ophthalmologic rehabilitation, an initiative launched in 2003 by then Presidents Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez to return sight to the poor, which began in Ecuador in 2006 at the initiative of provincial authorities and mayors.
The new agreement signed with the Ecuadoran Ministry of Health has the same merits as Operation Miracle in terms of access, the level of operations and the fact that services are free of charge, Martínez added.
She explained that there are currently 41 Cuban specialists working in the three ophthalmologic centers located in the Ecuadoran cities of Latacunga, Machala and Ballenita.
In this regard, Dr. Diana Cocha, who heads the institution in Latacunga, highlighted the professionalism of the team and the excellent welcome given by the Ecuadoran people to the doctors of the Caribbean island.
It has been a splendid experience, added Cocha, who participated as a guest speaker at the scientific conference where Cuban ophthalmologists analyzed the results of the past year.
Cuban specialist Yelyn Vento, responsible for the Ballenita center, on the peninsula of Santa Elena, agreed with her colleague in highlighting Ecuadoran satisfaction with medical care offered by the Cuban collaborators, who also contribute to training local specialists.
Since its inception on July 8, 2003, Operation Miracle has restored the sight of six million people in Latin America and the Caribbean. The program’s goal is to benefit 10 million patients in 20 years.
Today, Cuba has 49 ophthalmology centers in 13 countries in the region, Vento concluded.